Prescribed burn concern

Trevor Paddenburg and Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

The Shire of Denmark has defended the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s plan to conduct prescribed burns of a 200ha parcel of land within the Valley of the Giants near Denmark.

Concerns have been raised by local residents, who say the burn-off could destroy ancient tingle trees in the area, some of which are 400 years old.

However, Shire community and regulatory services director Gregg Harwood said he had full faith in DPaW.

“We fully support DPaW’s mosaic burning program and are parti-cularly fortunate to be in the Frankland district,” he said

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A DPaW spokesman said the burn, the first since a prescribed burn in 1999, would go ahead when weather permitted, possibly as soon as this week.

But neighbouring farmer Tony Pedro, 64, whose family has run a cattle station next to the tingle forest since 1960, said the controlled burn could increase fuel loads.

“Prescribed burns adjacent to communities make sense when you want to lower the fuel load. But prescribed burning in land like this is just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous,” he said

“Large parts of the Valley of the Giants have remained unburnt for 80 years, allowing the understorey to collapse and decompose, creating a parkland forest with declining fuel levels.”

Conservation Council WA director Piers Verstegen warned the burn threatened the future of the tingle forest.

“That burning will change it from an environment that can sustain tingles to a drier forest like we have further north,” he said.

“This burn could be the one that pushes them over the edge.”

However, DPaW said the burn was needed to provide bushfire protection for the communities of Nornalup, Walpole, and neighbouring landholders, as well as to protect the Tree Top Walk, the Bibbulmun Track, the Munda Biddi Trail and other recreational sites in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park.

“The Tree Top Walk is approximately 3km away and will remain open during the prescribed burn,” a spokesman said. “Ground crews will do everything they can to minimise direct smoke impacts.”

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